You’ve decided on a nursing home for your parent, for example. Now, what’s needed for the admissions process to a long-term, skilled facility?

  • A physician’s order for admission.
  • A state-required form that certifies your parent meets nursing home criteria, which likely is filled out by the hospital or primary care physician.
  • A physician’s orders for treatment, occupational therapies or any needed rehabilitation.
  • A detailed list of all prescriptions, medications and dosages.
  • Medical history and physical results so attending physicians and nurses have the most up-to-date information regarding your loved one. Primary care physicians usually supply this.
  • Contact information for health care providers, family members and other emergency contacts.
  • Basic data about your parent’s daily routine and activities.
  • Negative tuberculosis test or chest X-ray.
  • Personal information and consent-for-treatment forms. You’ll probably be aided by a staff member in filling out forms. Bring in your loved one’s Social Security card, as well as documentation related to Medicare and/or Medicaid, and insurance cards.
  • Financial paperwork and insurance documentation to ensure you can pay for care.
  • Medical power-of-attorney paperwork showing a family member has the power to make arrangements for a move to a nursing home or long-term care community.
  • A living will.
  • Any advance directives your parent may have: do-not-resuscitate paperwork, end-of-life care wishes and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment.
  • Dietary requirements.
  • Power of attorney papers.

Questions you’ll need to answer

  • Is your parent enrolled in Medicare A or B or Medicaid, or is there an application pending?
  • Is there supplemental insurance for your parent?
  • Does your loved one receive veterans benefits, railroad retirement, Supplemental Security Income funds, or a private or government pension?
  • What assets — cash, checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, CDs, trust funds, or real estate holdings does your loved one have?
  • Have assets been transferred in the past three-to-five years?
  • Are there paid life insurance policies, burial insurance or long-term care insurance?
  • Does your parent own a home or pay rent?
  • What monthly bills/payments are outstanding?

The more research and planning you do, the better the move experience will be. The process of admitting your parent to a nursing home can take several hours. Staff is obligated to determine whether incoming residents meet the criteria for state or federal funding. While Medicare most often pays only for short-term nursing home stays, it will likely cover doctor services, medical supplies and prescription drugs, although the exact coverage depends on your Medicare plan.

Medicaid extends health coverage to low-income individuals — standards for income thresholds and asset limitations vary by state. If your state considers the patient medically needy, your parent will qualify; however, each state defines medical need in its own way. Admissions staff at Medicaid-certified nursing homes will have information about the qualification process. Senior living experts at the facility are available for answers to questions.

An elder law attorney and/or social worker can help with the application process, making decisions about management of income, assets and property, especially if one parent is admitted while the other lives at home. Take advantage of all the resources available to guide and support you. And if you can review and organize all the paperwork ahead of time, you’ll be more prepared. Meet the facility’s key administrators and caregivers ahead of time as well. A good match will be well worth the research and prep work.